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Trump Orders Review Of National Monuments, Including The First In The Atlantic Ocean

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President Donald Trump this week ordered a review of the U.S. Antiquities Act. The move could impact the Atlantic Ocean's first-ever marine national monument, created last fall.

The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts monument covers nearly 5,000 square miles off the coast of Cape Cod. It's home to a variety of wildlife and underwater landscapes.

This week, Trump ordered his interior secretary to review dozens of monuments created over the last roughly two decades, which are larger than 100,000 acres. Trump said they represent a "massive federal land grab."

Lisa Dale, with the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy, said the review isn't trying to rescind or undo anything -- yet.

"It's quite heavy on ideology, and rather light on realism," she said.

Dale said it's not clear whether the president has legal authority to revoke a national monument.

"There's no precedent for it," she said. "No president before this one has ever undone a national monument designation."

She said any redrawing of one would likely play out in the courts.

Credit The Pew Charitable Trusts
The Pew Charitable Trusts

Bob Vanasse, with Saving Seafood -- a group that opposed the Atlantic Ocean monument act-- thinks President Barack Obama improperly revoked commercial fishing rights by creating the monument last September. He said he'd welcome a legal battle. 

"It really should be tested by the courts to determine whether it's constitutional, and that's why I think it's appropriate for the secretary to review it," said Vanasse.

Lisa Dale said any review will likely take months. What the administration will do with the results of that review, she said, remain unclear.

Patrick Skahill is a reporter and digital editor at Connecticut Public. Prior to becoming a reporter, he was the founding producer of Connecticut Public Radio's The Colin McEnroe Show, which began in 2009. Patrick's reporting has appeared on NPR's Morning Edition, Here & Now, and All Things Considered. He has also reported for the Marketplace Morning Report. He can be reached at pskahill@ctpublic.org.

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